4 Lessons from a Yoga Competition

About 10 years ago I was in a yoga competition. Kinda weird, I agree. "Yoga" and "competition" don't exactly go together, but it was something that my home yoga studio was doing so I participated. The competition consisted of doing a series of seven postures in a set amount of time on a mini stage at the front of the studio. Whilst scantily clad in yoga attire. The goal was to, basically, complete the postures and be steady. Judges scored the execution of the postures. I was a little nervous, but felt pretty okay about being in the competition. It was for pure fun, I was an avid yogi and I could pretty easily get in the yoga zone.

I came in second place. Which meant I, along with the first place yogi, were going to LA to compete there. Holy hell.

So I flew to LA. Relevant to this story is that prior to being an avid yogi I ran marathons (read: tight hamstrings). Being flexible and lithe were not my natural form. Yoga competition + LA were not my comfort zone. 

It was so incredibly clear I was out of my league. Like, crystal clear.

There was a warm-up room and the other women were doing their graceful stretches and crazy back bends and I was practically gawking while I touched my toes. During the competition the competitors, myself included, could walk in and out of the hotel ballroom and watch. I watched one person. And I almost threw up with fear. Holy hell (again). I was going to embarrass myself.

I started walking back to the warm-up room and seriously considered going straight to the elevator, back up to my hotel room, and legit not doing the competition. Why embarrass myself when I knew I wouldn't win? (For the record, I never ever thought I would win.) Everyone would wonder how the heck I got there. I may puke with fear. Or fall off the stage.

But then I told myself, "I didn't come all the way to LA to not do this." I made my way back to the warm-up room and did like 25 back bends. I didn't go back to the competition room until it was my turn. I was sure I'd go straight to the elevator if I saw one more person do a picture perfect standing bow pose.

My turn came. I did my poses (real quick) and hurried off the stage. Phew. Done. Done done.

I did it. And for that day, that time I was in a yoga competition in LA, that was all that mattered. I did it when I was so scared I almost puked.

You will have your yoga competition moment. Maybe you've already had it. You'll have more. I've had more and I'll have more. Some takeaways from that crazy experience:

  1. Stay in your lane.

    I knew watching the other competitors would make me want to run even more. So I kept my head down and stayed in my lane. That meant not watching! And doing some back bends. Do what you need to do to focus on you.

  2. Who cares if people laugh.

    Really. And honestly, I don't think anyone did laugh at me and if I'd fallen off the stage people likely would have gasped and rushed to see if I was okay. Community support. It's generally all around.

  3. Show up and commit.

    I was tempted to just slide into the hotel bed and watch tv instead. But I was there. In LA. So I followed through on what I'd started. (There are times to shelve goals. This wasn't one of those times.)

  4. The ‘why’ may come in hindsight.

    That yoga competition wasn't about me trying to win. I was there almost by accident by way of something I loved. In hindsight, it was about me doing something that scared me. I was afraid of looking silly in front of a group of people. On a stage. I really was terrified. But, I did it and it all worked out just fine. If I'd fallen off the stage it also would have been fine.

You can totally do the next scary thing.

takeawaysJulie Tobi